EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., Nov. 15 (Ticker) -- Tracy McGrady
for the Houston Rockets. The New Jersey Nets appeared lost.
McGrady shook off a right hip injury to score 14 points and
former Net Jim Jackson
added a season-high 18 as Houston
erased an early deficit en route to an easy 80-69 triumph over
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McGrady, who has captured the last two NBA scoring titles,
missed Houston's previous two games with the injury and was not
much of a factor in this one - making just 6-of-15 shots in 38
"I felt pretty good out there," McGrady said. "I couldn't
really move the way I wanted to defensively. But after a slow
start, I felt better offensively. I'm sure I'll be a little
better tomorrow night in Atlanta."
Houston coach Jeff Van Gundy actually expressed concern about
how the return of McGrady affects starting center Yao Ming
"We're playing better when our starters are not together," he
said. "And it has been a seasonal source of concern. Yao has
only been assertive when Tracy has been hurt. Other than that,
he's just been whatever."
Jackson had one of his best games of the season and the Rockets
got a lift from their bench.
New Jersey scored the first 11 points of the contest, but Juwan Howard
had eight in the second quarter, when the Rockets
outscored the Nets, 27-13, and opened a 47-30 edge at the break.
"The game took a huge change in the second quarter," Nets coach
Lawrence Frank said. "By the end of the game, we're only
shooting 30 percent and had 21 turnovers. It's going to be hard
to win games despite how hard we played."
scored 17 points and collected 11 rebounds for
New Jersey, which shot just 31 percent and committed 19
The Nets have lost three straight overall, fell to 1-4 at home
this season and, at 82.7 points per game, are the lowest scoring
team in the league.
"When Jason Kidd
and Kenyon (Martin) went out last year, it's
not that we didn't miss a beat, but guys knew the offense so we
could run through it," Jefferson said. "We have to have
continuity. If you take Shaq (Shaquille O'Neal) away from Miami
or Tim Duncan
away from the Spurs, they're going to miss some
beats, but at least you have a certain comfort level of knowing
had five points and Jefferson four in an 11-0
run that opened the game. But Maurice Taylor
buried a 19-footer
with 7:53 to go, sparking a 20-6 run that closed the quarter.
Jackson hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer and had eight points in
"I wasn't concerned at all," McGrady said of the Nets' quick
start. "That's been the thing with us. We dug ourselves a
little hole in the first quarter and we came out flat. But we
finished up strong before the first half was over."
"It was up to us to figure out what we're doing wrong in those
situations," Jackson said. "When we come aggressive
defensively, our offense takes care of itself."
had four points as the Rockets opened the second
quarter with a 10-0 run. Howard capped that spurt with a
running hook shot with 9:01 to go.
Howard scored eight points and added five assists in the quarter
as the Rockets led by 17 at the half.
New Jersey shot 27 percent (11-for-41) from the field over the
first 24 minutes and allowed Houston to shoot 54 percent